The long wait is almost over for Gunnedah’s greyhound fraternity.
On Sunday, the Gunnedah Greyhound Racing Club will stage its first meeting in almost a year, after closing its doors in February last year because of track safety concerns.
But following a protracted $678,000 facility upgrade, greyhound racing is set to return to Gunnedah in a big way – with Sunday’s TAB meeting one of 12 TAB meetings, along with two non-TAB meetings, scheduled for the venue before the end of the financial year.
The reopening of the track is a boon for the region’s greyhound industry, with the Tamworth and Armidale greyhound tracks currently closed for remedial works to correct safety issues.
On Tuesday night, the Gunnedah club hosted its first trials since the closure.
Club president Geoff Rose said he “couldn’t be happier” to have racing resuming at the venue. He said that as a result of Tuesday’s trials, there were a “couple of little things to fix up”.
“It’s all ready to go,” he said. “Just minor teething issues, that’s all we had. Everybody was quite happy.”
“It’s just a relief – the work and the wait and the frustration that we’ve had to put up with is unbelievable,” he added.
“And we’ve got a 10-race card here for Sunday … I’ll give credit where credit is due. They’ve done a magnificent job with this track – unbelievable … How this track performed last night [Tuesday] was unbelievable. The dogs were going around, there was no hesitation in it … I cannot fault the work they’ve done.”
The track was closed last February after a routine inspection from Greyhound Racing NSW found it was “compromised at some points”. Greyhound Racing NSW oversaw the upgrade.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said the upgrade “has helped secure the future of greyhound racing in the North West”.
“It’s great news for Gunnedah that racing will resume at the track on Sunday, at a race meet that will usher in an exciting 2019 for the sport,” he said. “This project has ensured that greyhound racing can grow in the Gunnedah region, while, at the same time, improving the welfare of dogs and the sustainability of the local industry.”
Greyhound Racing chief executive Tony Mestrov said: “I am very pleased to see the Gunnedah club ready to resume racing on Sunday, on a safer and better-designed track.”